Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Rano Raraku

Most of the 900 moai in the island come from the slopes of the Rano Raraku volcano. In this unique place, hundreds of sculptors and artists worked between the years 1000 and 1680 to produce giant statues of volcanic stone. Huge burins of basalt, the toki, made it possible to separate the giant sculptures from the flanks of the volcano before finishing them. Today, the visitors who walk through the external and internal slopes of the Rano Raraku can contemplate several tens of these impressive statues, most of them with their body buried. We also know there are moai that were covered by dirt, landslides, rubble and vegetal remains. In this site, a total of 397 moai were counted. Except for their hat (pukao), which came from a quarry near Hanga Roa (Puna Pau), their eyes (made of coral, obsidian or tuff) and their ornamentation, the manufacturing process of the moai was executed almost completely in the same place.


Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas

Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial, located in Mitte on a stretch of the former “death strip”, where the Wall once stood near the Brandenburg Gate, is Berlin’s stunning monument to the Holocaust, dedicated to the Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide of World War II. Impressive in its awesome grey soberness, rather than sombreness, it includes an underground Ort der Information (Information Centre) located on the south-eastern side of the memorial grounds, accessible via two flights of stairs or a lift.

The 800sqm Information Centre complements the abstraction of the memorial with personal documentation about individuals and families. This includes biographical details, recordings and information about memorial sites throughout Germany and Europe. Documenting the universal issue of genocide, the centre represents a central focus on the diverse memorial sites across Germany which stress the living memory aspect of remembrance. In Berlin an examples of this is the Stolpersteine (tripping stones) initiative – plaques on street pavements, usually outside the house’s main entrance, commemorating deported Jewish residents.

It took 17 years for the Memorial to be completed in Berlin. Its foundation stone was a Bundestag resolution passed on June 25, 1999 to erect a Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. This was followed by years of discussion and deliberation, until the Monument was completed on May 8, 2005. US architect Peter Eisenmann conceived the winning design consisting of 2711 rectangular blocks of concrete laid out in grid formation, recalling tombstones. The monument is open day and night and it is possible to walk through the concrete slabs at one’s own pace. Visitors are not allowed to climb on them though, something which is particularly hard for younger visitors and small children to resist. The effect is that of inner dislocation in a destabilising maze as the ground is uneven and the blocks vary in height and size. An ideal setting for quiet contemplation. 


Saturday, 13 July 2013

Ahu Tongariki

Of all the ahu in Easter Island, the most prestigious one is certainly Tongariki, which has 15 statues located in front of the Rano Raraku quarry, less than 2 km away.
Like all the other ahu, the Tongariki was devastated during the time in which the clans that fought against each other rejected the worship to the ancestors. Although the Tongariki exposes 15 statues, other 17 older moai were found at the base. Some of them still remain at the site (in fact, three ahu were superimposed in the same place throughout history). Today, the specialists study cubic meters of valuable archives. As for the statue that lies on the ground in front of the ahu, it is not a moai from Tongariki, but a statue that was being transported. The eyes hadn’t been sculpted yet, since it had just left the quarry of Rano Raraku.
Hopefully, the sea will not wreak havoc again, because it would ruin the restoration work that lasted over 2 years. In light of this excavation, and with modern equipment such as cranes or computers, it is possible to estimate the genius of the ancient islanders to lift all the ceremonial platforms in the island only with the strength of their arms. Today, the Tongariki ahu, whose left part was restored in 2001, is the biggest South Pacific monument (the professional tour guides of the island will show you the petroglyphs and other details associated with this impressive monument.)